Syria Clashes Kill 30 as Assad Warns of ‘Another Afghanistan’
At least 30 people were killed in clashes between Syrian army defectors and security forces as President Bashar al-Assad warned that foreign intervention could turn the country into “another Afghanistan.”
Any move by the West to interfere in Syria would “cause an earthquake,” al-Assad said in an interview with the U.K.’s Sunday Telegraph newspaper, ahead of an Arab League meeting in Doha today to discuss the violence. “Do you want to see another Afghanistan, or tens of Afghanistans?”
The deaths in Homs and Idlib yesterday were reported by Al- Jazeera television, which cited activists. Syrian forces also killed 20 civilian protesters in addition to 43 killed across the country on Oct. 28, Al-Jazeera said. Clashes between security forces and an armed “terrorist” group in the city of Idlib left 10 military officers dead and almost 20 wounded, the state-run Syrian Arab News Agency said today.
Protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule began in mid-March, inspired by the uprisings that ousted the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia. Assad has blamed the unrest on Islamic militants and foreign provocateurs, and sent security forces to crush the protests, leaving more than 4,000 dead, according to Ammar Qurabi of the National Organization for Human Rights in Syria.
Syria is the hub of the region and any problem in the country will “burn” the area, Assad said in the interview. “If the plan is to divide Syria, that is to divide the whole region.”
Western countries “are going to ratchet up the pressure, definitely,” Assad said. “But Syria is different in every respect from Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen.”
Much of the bloodshed Oct. 28 occurred when security forces armed with machine guns chased activists after protests had ended, according to the Associated Press.
The Arab League issued a statement expressing “disgust” at the killings ahead of today’s meeting, according to the AP.